Environment
4:38 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

New Chemical Safety Bill Introduced; Health Advocates Say It's Lacking

A bipartisan bill to reform some of the country’s laws regulating chemicals has been introduced in the Senate, but some environmental advocates say it’s missing key provisions.

The bill was introduced by New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg, a Democratic, and Republican Senator David Vitter from Louisiana. It also has a number of co-sponsors from both ends of the political spectrum. It’s called the “Chemical Safety Improvement Act of 2013,” and aims to update the nation’s Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA.

Environmental and health groups have long been arguing that TSCA is outdated, and there should be more regulation and information about the toxic chemicals that companies use in products. And for the past several years, they’ve been lobbying for a different, more comprehensive piece of legislation championed by Lautenberg.

Elizabeth Crowe of the Kentucky Environmental Foundation says there are some positive provisions in this new bill, like that it requires safety evaluations for all chemicals used in consumer products.

But Crowe says the legislation doesn’t go far enough to protect people who live near chemical plants—like in Louisville’s Rubbertown.

“Places that are really in many ways suffering from the highest concentration of chemicals, not only from products, but also because it’s in the air and in the water,” she said. “Those are the places that have been left out of this new bill.”

Representatives from the Environmental Justice and Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform echoed Crowe's comment.

Under current law, the federal government can only conduct safety testing on a chemical after evidence suggests it might be dangerous; that would change under the proposed legislation.